Escalating Emotion Workshop Handout

Escalating Emotion in Commercial Fiction Writing

One of the first rules we learn as romance writ­ers is that the Emotional Conflict between the hero and the herWaterhouse painting of woman sleeping in a chair with a book in her lap.oine must not only be com­pelling enough to car­ry the rela­tion­ship to its inevitable sto­ry con­clu­sion, but that the Emotional Conflict must also esca­late expo­nen­tial­ly.

This is actu­al­ly true of all Commercial Fiction.   Whether you’re writ­ing Science Fiction or Westerns or Paranormal, the con­flict between the Protagonist and the Antagonist (whether Godzilla, Mom or the Ghost of Christmas Past) must be emo­tion-based in order to dri­ve the sto­ry.

Escalating Emotion Workshop Handout

Below you’ll find a pdf of the hand­out for the Escalating Emotions work­shop I gave at the 2014 Willamette Writers Conference.  Along with an anno­tat­ed exam­ple sto­ry, the chart lists the steps of Christopher Vogler’s Writer’s JourneyMichael Hague’s Screenplay Structure and James Scott Bell’s Writing from the Middle.

Use the chart as a ref­er­ence for struc­tur­ing your sto­ry — not as a bible.

WW2014 Escalating Relationship Workshop Handout

Home Library Bookshelves — Ideas and Tips

Bookshelves for Your Print Library Collection

Too-tall tomes!  The most clever thing we did when we had book­cas­es built into our 20-bay home library was to have the cab­i­net design­er make eight adjustable book­shelves for each bay instead of the usu­al six.

Author Linda Needham's curly, medium sized black dog in the foreground with wall of filled bookshelves of Linda Needham's home library in the background.

Author Linda Needham’s Hound, Pippa the Portuguese Library Dog

As you see in the pho­to, the two extra shelves allow room for those tall books or mag­a­zines to lay side­ways, spine out. That way we don’t waste ver­ti­cal shelf space with a few tall books sit­ting on the same shelf as stan­dard height books.
Pippa of the Library Chair agrees!

Surprising New Tools for the Working Romance Writer

I nev­er would have guessed, back in the dark ages of the mid-1990s when my first romance was pub­lished, that the list of tools for the 21st Century work­ing romance writer would include a Canon Rebel T3i DSLR cam­era with all the bells and whis­tles.

But, here’s the new truth: work­ing writ­ers are no longer allowed to hide out behind their screens and bang out sto­ries.  We got­ta get out there and engage our romance read­ers with images and adven­tures.  And that’s all good, by my lights.
Extreme Close Up

New Tools, New Lessons

New tools, new cam­era, new lessons in how to work all those but­tons and gears. Remembering what f-stop means, how to read the expo­sure meter, which lens does what, shoot­ing video and timed pho­tos, etc.  Above is an image from my home­work in prepa­ra­tion of my research trip to the UK — try­ing out a lens exten­sion tube.

Funky results and soooo much fun to see the world through a new set of lens­es!

Better Images

Since I base all of my his­tor­i­cal romance nov­els in the UK, cas­tles and manor hous­es are my bread and butter–uhm, make that my tea and crum­pets.  I’ve used dig­i­tal point-and-shoot cam­eras dur­ing my pre­vi­ous research trips, snap­ping tons and tons of pho­tos of details of door hinges and land­scapes and mine shafts and rugged coast­lines.  Good, but not great.

Smart phones and P&S cam­eras cap­ture love­ly mem­o­ries, but in this new Age of the Image, as a work­ing romance writer I need more sophis­ti­cat­ed tools for shar­ing my expe­ri­ences with my read­ers.

Legal Landscape

A work­ing romance writer can’t just grab any old image off the net and share it on the web or slap it onto their indy cov­er.  Someone owns the copy­right on that image and might (should) object.  With that threat upper­most in my mind, my cam­era becomes anoth­er sur­pris­ing tool of the trade, allow­ing me to snap my own images — after first receiv­ing per­mis­sion from the “snap-ee” — mak­ing my work legal and above-board.

Working Romance Writer

I keep­ing think­ing there’s no more room in my writer’s tool­box.  But there’s always some­thing new and excit­ing com­ing at me around the cor­ner.  Next time, I won’t be sur­prised; I’ll be ready with my DSLR cam­era!  Snap!  Right.



The Romance of Editorial Time Travel

Late last year, I had great fun edit­ing the OCR copies of two of my old print romances –Ever His Bride and Her Secret Guardian — and shep­herd­ing them onto the Amazon KDP, iTunes, Nook, etc. eTailer sites.

Confession: though I cre­at­ed my own e-book cov­ers (for bet­ter or worse) I mere­ly edit­ed my old books then hand­ed off the Word doc, the front & back mat­ter and retail­er info to a paid pro­fes­sion­al.

Winchester Cathedral interior, looking up into the north side Romanesque Transept, heavy stone blocks and two stories of thick arches, with tiled and coffered ceiling

Winchester Cathedral, north transept; a glo­ri­ous exam­ple of the ear­li­est English Romanesque cathe­dral archi­tec­ture.

This year I’m work­ing on the third and final of my old print books before releas­ing a brand new series of medieval his­tor­i­cal mys­tery romance (Avon Books/HarperCollins still has all the rights to my oth­er 7 his­tor­i­cal romances.) (more…)